Cuff Choice: French or Button?

Button cuff

Like many things in fashion, the debate over French cuff (aka double cuff) versus button cuff (aka barrel cuff) sparks a plethora of opinions, from your passionate shirt enthusiast to leading style commentators to your average Joe Blow. However divergent the views on French cuff versus button cuff, ultimately it comes down to a personal preference, which of course should be ever evolving.

French cuffs are often seen as a way to add some additional flair and style to an outfit by allowing you to wear cuff links – whether you choose monogrammed cuff links with a shank in gold or silver or simple silk knots to complement your shirt and tie combination, there is something arresting when catching a small glimpse of a cuff link when you rest your hands on the boardroom table or shake someone’s hand. Some may even say that when the chosen cuff links bear some weight, a French cuff may hang better under a suit.

Button cuffs are often desired as they espouse an element of simplicity and may not detract from the rest of the outfit chosen for that day. Some more practically orientated gents also prefer not to be concerned with the challenges of choosing and coordinating cuff links or remembering where those cuff links were last placed. Others may find that cuff links become cumbersome when spending hours in front of a computer typing and so button cuffs are the order of the day. The button cuff is also considered more versatile by many, with an easy transition from work to play, and also provides a more fitted feel when worn under a jumper or sweater.

Without doubt, all of the above is true. The button cuff is indeed versatile. A dress shirt with button cuff can work just as well with a pair of jeans, dress trousers or shorts as it does in a formal setting, under a blazer or a suit with or without a tie. For many purists though, French cuff is still the preferred style to wear with a tuxedo or tails in a black tie setting.

However, whilst we would not necessarily suggest that the French cuff is equally as versatile as the button cuff, the French cuff should by no means be constrained only to formal settings. Many of you might recall the trend in recent times where the French cuff has been worn under a sweater or sport coat, without cuff links – think of style icons Lino Ieluzzi and Brad Pitt in Oceans 11.  Key to this look is doing it with the right amount of nonchalance and keeping the sweater or jacket on so the cuffs are kept in check. You don’t necessarily have to be European to pull off this look, but we definitely recommend you have equal amounts of ‘sprezzatura’ and swagger. Just remember, if you do lose the sweater or blazer, you are probably best advised to roll those sleeves up, or you’ll risk looking like you’ve fallen into a charity clothing bin, though admittedly Brad Pitt appears to pull it off. But then again, he also pulled of a Casino heist, which kind places him in a different stratosphere.

French cuff worn by Lino Ieluzzi“Imperfection is never a mistake; it is a sign of humanity. You must break the codes, break the perfection. Never pay attention to rules.” – Lino Ieluzzi (Source:

As with so many things in fashion, whatever your preference, don’t let the views of others or fear sway your choice.

It is not uncommon to hear comments about playing it safe or dressing down to avoid standing out, be it for an interview, work or when around friends and thus avoid anything that could set you apart, such as a French cuff with a dashing pair of cuff links. This is often associated with a fear of being seen as ostentatious or showy.

However, whatever connotation can be read into the choice of cuff seems to us a trivial discussion at best. Are French cuff dress shirts a sign of a man seeking attention or craving power? Possibly, but it can equally be argued that they are a sign of attention to detail, confidence and individuality. Maybe Sigmund Freud has the answer. Our bet is that the gent just likes the look on that day. What he wears tomorrow at work or while at play will probably tell a different story anyway.

The reality is, fashion rules were meant to be broken, which makes it all the more exciting.  If anything, old rules are being forgotten or intentionally ignored. Once upon a time, a French cuff shirt may have been the only option for formal occasions and a button cuff seen as a casual statement, but stylish and daring men these days are regularly wearing suits sans tie, sports jackets mixed with denim, and tuxedo shirts without a dinner jacket. The common theme that unites these different looks is the disparity between casual and dressy elements and the wearers ability to pull them off with aplomb.

Remember, variety is the spice of every great wardrobe and so it is no coincidence that the Philippe Perzi Vienna shirt collection provides our customers with a broad range of dress shirts with French cuff and button cuff.

Which cuff you should choose, ultimately comes down to a personal preference as to what looks good. Just remember to keep an open mind. Applying rules to fashion without a personal sense of confidence in your own style can be much more tragic than ignoring them.

Philippe Perzi Vienna – What makes us different, makes you different. It’s all in the detail.